We Were Never All in this Together, Were We?
It’s almost the beginning of the school year in my part of the country. Teachers are back at their schools for pre-service week. They will greet their colleagues, attend meetings, learn what has and hasn’t changed, and set up their classrooms.
I wrote an article almost two years ago titled, Are We Really All in This Together? About supporting teachers during pandemic learning for the 2020–2021 school year. The last two years in education have been truly eye-opening. Teachers learned where they stood with their parents, school systems, and students.
Somewhere along the way, we failed each other. In a time where we needed to pull together and be kind and extend grace to our neighbors, we forgot that we weren’t the only ones struggling. As we donned our facemasks, demanded kids return to the classrooms before vaccines were distributed, and worked from home, we forgot that our personal decisions affected others. The pandemic showed us the very worst of ourselves.
Teachers are undervalued
We pushed teachers into resigning and retiring. We told them we didn’t take their health seriously. We demanded that they “stop being lazy” and teach our children. Once lauded for pivoting quickly to online learning as we waited in the days, weeks, and months of the pandemic, we once called them superheroes and were so grateful.
When we ended the 2019–2020 school year we looked forward to “normalcy” because surely the kids would be back in school, and parents could stop having to share their work time to ensure the kids were attending classes and doing their work.
But that didn’t happen. While our government pointed fingers and tried to figure out who was responsible for the misunderstandings and we decided who was expendable, our students suffered. Our teachers suffered. And while it should have shown us how much we needed and should value our teachers, we told them they were nothing more than glorified babysitters. We told our children their mental health was not important. We ignored their pain as we focused on our own. And through it all, the teachers taught through the chaos. And it was used against them. “Do it for the children,” we said. But…